Last night a U.S. district judge ruled that Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage recognition was unconstitutional and ordered the state to start handing out licenses beginning Friday.
This ruling is right on the heels of a similar decision by a county judge in Arkansas last Friday. Gay couples in that state have started getting married, though the state is looking to suspend the order for appeal.
The most important thing to learn from Idaho's ruling is that the governor's name is two pieces of gay slang, Butch Otter. I'm pretty sure I've seen guys described with those exact words. Despite the gay-friendly name, he declared he will appeal the verdict.
Anyway, I'm making fun of Gov. Otter's name because I am unsure of what else I can add to the discussion of gay marriage recognition. I've written something about each of the rulings for states like Texas, Michigan, Arkansas, and many of the other pro-recognition rulings that have come in the wake of the Supreme Court's United States v. Windsor decision that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act.
I lamented this morning that I had run out of things to say about the issue, prompting this amusing tweet:
Well, there's this: Every time a ruling like this happens, there's a dozen comments or so about getting the government out of marriage entirely. While I think that's a great goal for creating an equal playing field in areas like government entitlements and taxation, I still have deep fears our court system won't know how to deal with legal family conflicts.
When a federal judge in Oklahoma struck down the state's ban on gay marriage recognition, a conservative state legislator named Mike Turner said he was going to craft a bill eliminating government marriage in Oklahoma entirely. After the quick rush of initial, extremely superficial stories, I attempted to get in touch with him to delve deeper into the proposal to see if he had researched or thought about all the things the state would need to change if it were to end official marriage licensing. Unfortunately, he declined to speak further on the matter, leaving some coverage to characterize his actions as some sort of "cut off his nose to spite his face" act of retribution.
Who knows—they may be right about Turner, but that doesn't mean other efforts to divorce marriage from the government are about denying people the right to freely associate. From the libertarian perspective, it's the opposite. The government is the barrier, not the liberator. So a thought exercise: Presume that we can't just eliminate marriage licenses entirely, as much as we might want to. The good news in these gay marriage rulings is that judges are pointing out that the state doesn't really have an actual stake in using marriage incentives to further breeding (and isn't handing marriage licenses out based on the concept anyway). What actually can or should be done next to further reduce government involvement in our family composition choices?